Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 8.djvu/46

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36
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

vanced state some ten centuries later. The practice of building great pyramidal temples seems to have passed eastward to India and Burmah, where it appears in buildings of a later date, in Buddhist topes and pagodas; marvels of skill in masonry, and far surpassing the old brick mounds of Chaldea in richness of design and in workmanship. Egypt was probably far better irrigated in the days of the Pharaohs than it is now; and Lake Mœris, of which the remains have been explored by M. Linant, was a reservoir made by one of the Pharaohs, and supplied by the flood-waters of the Nile. It was 150 square miles in extent, and was retained by a bank or dam 60 yards wide and 10 high, which can be traced for a distance of 13 miles. This reservoir was capable of irrigating 1,200 square miles of country. No work of this class has been undertaken on so vast a scale since, even in these days of great works. The springs of knowledge which had flowed so long in Babylonia and Assyria were dried up at an early period; but Egypt remained the fountain-head whence knowledge flowed to Greece and Rome. The early constructive works of Greece, till about the seventh century b. c, form a strong contrast to those of its more prosperous days. Commonly called Pelasgian, they are more remarkable as engineering works than admirable as those which followed them were for architectural beauty. Walls of huge unshapely stones—admirably fitted together, however—tunnels, and bridges characterize this period. In Greece, during the few and glorious centuries which followed, the one aim in all construction was to please the eye, to gratify the sense of beauty; and in no age was that aim more thoroughly and satisfactorily attained.

In these days, when sanitary questions attract each year more attention, we may call to mind that twenty-three centuries ago the city of Agrigentum possessed a system of sewers, which on account of their large size was thought worthy of mention by Diodorus. This is not, however, the first record of towns being drained. The well-known Cloaca Maxima, which formed part of the drainage system of Rome, was built some two centuries earlier, and great vaulted drains passed beneath the palace-mounds of unburnt brick at Nimroud and Babylon, and possibly we owe the preservation of many of the interesting remains found in the brick-mounds of Chaldea to the very elaborate system of pipe drainage discovered in them and described by Loftus. While Pelasgian art was being superseded in Greece, the city of Rome was founded, in the eighth century before our era; and Etruscan art in Italy, like the Pelasgian art in Greece, was slowly merged in that of an Aryan race.

It would be impossible for me to do justice to even a small part of the engineering works which remain to this day as monuments of the skill, the energy, and ability, of the great Roman people. War, with all its attendant evils, has often indirectly benefited mankind. In the sieges which took place during the wars of Greece and Rome, the in-